International Affairs


Your Excellency Governor Dr. Franz Schausberger and Madam Schausberger,

Your Worship Mayor Dr. Heinz Schaden,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by expressing my deepest appreciation to Governor Schausberger for his words of welcome. They reflect his philosophical interests and his historical perspectives, no less than his generosity and hospitality. It is indeed a pleasure to be the guest of one who has so insightful a knowledge of India's history.

Salzburg is one of the high points in the world's landscape of beauty and culture, not just Austria's. As an Alpine resort of rare loveliness; as a historical venue that goes as far back as Celtic times; as a place of exquisite architectural marvels combining Ronn, Benedictine, Franciscan, Baroque and Rococo styles, and as the birthplace of Mozart, it is a place where Nature and Human Skills have met at their best. While I was a student many years ago, I had travelled in these parts of Austria and savoured of its delectations. To revisit Salzburg is therefore a singular, almost entrancing, joy.

Today, Mr. Governor and Mr. Mayor, marks the climax of our visit to Austria. This has been for us an unforgettable visit, a veritable repast for the mind, the heart and the soul.

We have had useful discussions in Vienna, with H.E. President Klestil, Chancellor Klima and other dignitaries. We had much in common to discuss, particularly as two democracies that have just gone through elections which have seen coalitions being entrusted with responsibility.

And now, after these talks, we have come to Salzburg. While we have not been fortunate enough to visit Salzburg during the great Salzburg festival, we have nonetheless received something of the musical magic of Salzburg through items which you have so graciously included in our programme. There are not many places in the world where the highest accomplishments of the arts and the sciences merge as they do in Austria. Einstein's interest in Mozart, activated by his study of the mathematics of music, is a tribute by Science to Art. We in India fully understand this, for India too is the home of mathematical breakthroughs - including the discovery of the 'zero' - and is also home to the highest forms of classical music.

Mr. Governor, as you know, Indo-Austrian links go back in time. Balthasar Springer, an Austrian, who hailed from Tyrol, reached the shores of India with the third Portuguese fleet in 1505 and wrote a book about his travels. Later, at the time of Emperor Joseph-II, an enterprising merchant, Wilhelm Bolt, commanded an Austrian ship and sailed to the West Coast of India. He reached the Nicobar Islands in 1778 and named one of them as 'Theresia' in honour of Queen Maria Theresia. More recently, towards the turn of century, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand visited India and, I understand, the original account of his travels is also a subject under research and publication.

Indian art, culture and ideas also reached Austria and the tangible proof of these influences can be found in some remarkable works of art created in India which today can be found in Austria. The Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna has the largest collection in the world of illustrated manuscripts from the Hamza Nama (1562-1577) which was crafted for Emperor Akbar of India in the highest tradition of Indo-Persian painting. In the early 18th century, Queen Maria Theresia decorated one of the rooms in the magnificent Schonbrunn Place with original Mughal miniatures which are currently under restoration at your National Library.

It is natural, Your Excellency, that Austria which is an important centre of European culture should be instinctively drawn to Indian culture and civilisation. The Institute of Indology characterises the interest in Indology and in India studies. It is a matter of great satisfaction to us that the Austrian Institute of Architectural Engineering is engaged in the restoration of a 15th century monastery - the Tsa-tsa-puri-Gompa in our northern region of Ladakh. We would be happy to encourage initiatives which would meet the desire of the people of Austria and India to know more about our two respective great cultures.

Your Excellency, we have been struck by the architectural grandeur of Salzburg and of this Residence. The panoramic view showing Hohensazlburg presiding over the churches and domes of this city and the river Salzach flowing placidly, as it has done for centuries, through Salzburg is unforgettable. These picturesque streets with their wrought iron signs and the noble architecture of the buildings will forever stay in our memory.

We are aware that as one of the leading and important provinces of Austria, Salzburg is also an important contributor to the Austrian economy attracting millions of tourists every year not only to Salzburg but also to the beautiful lake and mountain areas of the Salzkamnergut. You have your own important role in the national polity through your position in the Upper Chamber of Parliament. We wish you every success in your endeavours.

May I once again extend our gratitude to you for having made our stay here so special. It is indeed, a matter of great pleasure for myself and my delegation to have had the chance to spend a most enjoyable day in this important and historical centre of Austria and Europe.

Thank you

Jai Hind